Iraq vet’s experience with Fairfax police triggers investigation

WASHINGTON — Fairfax County Police Chief Ed Roessler has ordered an internal investigation following an op-ed in The Washington Post that described an aggressive police response to a report of an apartment intruder that turned out to be a sleeping resident, who is also a veteran.

Alex Horton, an Iraq War veteran, wrote about waking up to find three police officers standing in the bedroom of his Alexandria apartment June 14.

He claims they pointed guns at his head.

“It was pretty chaotic,” Horton tells WTOP. “They came in pretty quick and then jumped on the bed to handcuff me.”

Someone had mistakenly reported Horton as an intruder in the building as he was staying in a temporary unit while his apartment was undergoing repairs.

He believes the police response was overly aggressive and indicative of an attitude that can erode the public’s trust in authorities.

“They use force, then they start asking questions. It should be the reverse,” Horton said.

In an interview with WTOP, Chief Roessler would not comment on whether he thinks officers drawing their weapons in such a situation is appropriate.

However, he confirmed that policy changes may be required after the incident.

“I am looking at the interactions between all involved,” Roessler explained. “They might be in compliance with policy. But I also need to answer, ‘was it necessary?’ ”

Roessler says, regardless of the outcome of the investigation, there will be additional, mandatory use-of-force training for officers in response to recommendations issued by the Police Executive Research Forum last month.

More recommendations regarding the department’s use of force policies are expected later this year from a community review panel, put together in the wake of the ongoing investigation into the fatal shooting of John Geer, a Springfield resident who was shot by a Fairfax County officer in 2013.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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